Smoking Law to City Council Tuesday October 1

100113The Berkeley Tenants Union has no position on the emerging legislation to make cigarette smoking illegal in all multiunit buildings in Berkeley. This hot issue pits neighbor against neighbor, especially since the City Council’s draft only has one enforcement mechanism: take your neighbor to small claims court!

Requests from the Rent Board and other constituents for the city to require mediation have not been included in the rules, which would make smoking in or around their buildings illegal for tenants and condominium owners, even if smoking is allowed in the lease or homeowner’s agreement. Smoking will be prohibited in all new leases.

Possible changes to the current draft of the law which are discussed in the Council report:

  • Mandating mediation
  • More aggressively enforcing the Ordinance
  • Defining smoking in multi-unit housing as a nuisance to allow evictions
  • Requiring a registry of units with non-smoking clauses in their leases
  • Including medical cannabis smoking

The Berkeley City Council will finally vote on the controversial law at their meeting Tuesday, which begins at 7 PM at 2134 Martin Luther King Jr. Way and will be broadcast on the web, cable TV and 89.3 FM. The current draft does include some increased support for smokers trying to quit.

Our elected Rent Board has been under fire from at least one antismoking advocate. The Commissioners expressed concerns that defining smoking as a nuisance would lead to evictions, pushed for mediation to be mandatory before law suits are filed, and also requested that the city enable their department to provide tracking so prospective tenants would know if they are applying for a unit next door to a smoker and/or if smoking happened during the previous tenancy:
May 7 Smoke-free Housing Council final

Health advocates say the law doesn’t go far enough to protect renters from second hand smoke:–By-Carol-Denney

Council materials, see Item 10: